Rudyard Kipling defined the idea of an “It” Girl, writing “It isn’t beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It’s just ‘It.'” By that measure, if you have “It” you never lose it. So, in celebration of the release of “It” Girl Marianne Faithfull’s new album Horses and High Heels , we offer Flavorpill’s 10 favorite 1960s “It” Girls. Between the fashion explosion that launched the age of the supermodel, the rise of Swinging London, and the lasting impression New Wave cinema had on commercial movies, there are dozens to choose from. Narrowing it down to only ten was hard, but the ones we’ve chosen have made a lasting impression and turned their “It” Girl status into legacies we still dissect.
In the 1960s, Marianne Faithfull wasn’t just famous — she was infamous. A career that started with her discovery by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and the Keith-and-Mick-penned hit single “As Tears Go By” spun into a full-blown relationship with Jagger. She didn’t become notorious until the 1967 drug bust at Keith Richards’s house, where police started a rumor she was found in nothing but a fur rug (true) with a Mars bar in her ladybits (not true). She had all the makings of an “It” Girl for the times: universal good looks, unquestionable talent, and a deep desire to have a good time, consequences be damned.
The most in-demand model of the early 1960s was better known as The Shrimp (for her long, slim figure), The Face, and the world’s highest paid model (at the time). Supermodels in the wake of Janice Dickinson would up the ante considerably, but Jean did well in her time and scored multiple Vogue covers, not to mention her appearances in Harper’s Bazaar, McCall’s, Glamour, Elle, Vanity Fair, and Newsweek. She was the model of choice for top photographers at the time, including David Bailey and Richard Avedon. She inadvertently launched the miniskirt on a trip to Australia, reportedly giving Mary Quant the idea for what would become not just a garment but a cultural revolution. And those short skirts led photographers to shoot her at an up angle, making her skirts look even shorter — so Paris, Britney, Lindsay and every other starlet in a short skirt ultimately have her (and their own lack of underwear) to thank for that paparazzi treat.
The ‘60s don’t get much more “It” than Warhol factory star and socialite Edie Sedgwick. A whole universe of ladies who got discovered for nothing more than being fabulous owe their trajectory to Edie. Andy Warhol’s films and social circle may have made her famous, but the general consensus is she had that certain special something from the start. In fact, that is reportedly why Chuck Wein introduced her to Andy after they both left Cambridge. She had her heart broken by ‘60s icon Bob Dylan (who failed to tell her he was married), a family history of mental illness, and a vibrant modeling career that surpassed her underground film career. She’ll always be remembered as one of The Factory’s greatest stars, but the kind of circles Edie traveled in were much bigger than Poor Little Rich Girl .
Someone had to dethrone The Shrimp, and Twiggy was the model to do it. Her “It” Girl status was cemented when she cut off her hair and became the epitome of what we today call the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Twiggy made female androgyny in the ’60s fashionable. And the secret to those eyelashes? She put three layers of false lashes over her own to get those dark eyes. She was also big in Japan — you are surely familiar with her modeling career, but did you know Twiggy sung on over a dozen singles? Or that Paul McCartney wrote “Back in the USSR” for Twiggy’s planned musical invasion of Russia that never came to be? Oh yeah, he also wrote “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance” for another planned Gene Kelly-esque Twiggy movie that never came to fruition. That’s two more songs written by a Beatle than the average “It” Girl (save Pattie Boyd) can claim.
Whether you know her best for her controversial Serge Gainsbourg duet or the Birkin bag or her revealing role in Blow-Up , there’s no denying that Jane was a cultural icon in the ’60s who challenged the status quo at every turn. Birkin’s style is arguably the template for most of the last decade of hipsters: disheveled, forcefully innocent, and naïve to the point of being unbelievable. She was the epitome of free love, posing for erotic magazines and baring all on-screen. Jane didn’t bother hiding her “It” factor: she put it all on record.
Born Anna Mae Bullock and best known in the ’60s as the face of the Ike and Tina Review, Tina Turner is the Queen of Rock ‘N Roll. Tina may have been the means to Ike’s goal of international stardom, but she was also the heart of their whole operation. Ike and Tina may have blown the doors off R&B clubs in the early ’60s, but Tina’s soul is what garnered the group an invite to open for The Rolling Stones and guaranteed their place as household faces. In a decade of skinny girls, Tina put a dramatically different face on androgynous beauty and showed the other girls how to really give it your all on stage.
Some women are so fantastic they only need one name. Veruschka was the ’60s version of that, a Prussian model/artist who took fashion by storm and was part of some of the most daring photo spreads of the decade. She grew up rich, with a countess mother and an army father. Things changed after her father was executed for attempting to assassinate Hitler and after WWII her family was left homeless. One thing led to anther and a trip to France ensured her introduction to Eileen Ford, who appreciated her statuesque figure, and a place at Ford Modeling. Then came $10,000-a-day jobs with everyone from Richard Avedon to Salvador Dalí. Veruschka is well known for art directing her own shoots, and her parvenu tastes resulted in some truly bizarre looks that helped her stand out from the model crowd. Everything you saw Laugh-In do in the way of day-glo body art was in homage to Veruschka.
While everyone else in the decade was swinging, actress Catherine Deneuve was creating a series of characters that are often described as an “ice maiden.” Between Polanski’s Repulsion, Belle de jour, and Tristana she perfected the archetype of of the cold, untouchable woman. It was the sort of apotheosis that went against cultural norms for the time, when women were supposed to be not only sexually free but easy in the role and giggly in a Goldie Hawn way. And it touched a nerve with some people, like Yves Saint Laurent, who made Catherine his muse and dressed her in several films. Her work on film in the ‘60s made her an in-demand actress who’s been collaborating with high-profile directors ever since.
Hepburn broke out in the 1950s, but her most famous and lasting role would come in 1961 when she became Holly Golightly in the film adaptation of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. When Audrey donned that blond streak, a tiara, and the original little black dress, a style icon came into being. Even if Capote didn’t approve of her casting, and Audrey herself thought the role was a bad fit for her, the legacy of Holly Golightly has endured as her most famous role, and the fashion it inspired became synonymous with a look that starlets attempt to replicate today.
Grace may have only come to your attention in The September Issue, as the power behind the powerhouse that is Anna Wintour, but in the 1960s she was a rising model who landed on the cover of British Vogue and married the famous Mr. Chow. Her angular features and unconventional beauty offered steady print and runway work through the ’70s, even after she took a job as a junior editor at British Vogue in 1969. Obviously Grace’s eye has influenced the world’s fashion sense, always one step ahead of the fashionable Swinging London scene.